A New Jersey mom tried to drown her three teenage children by driving a van into the Delaware River, police said. There were no casualties and all four were safely rescued by a man who heard their muffled screams from the partially submerged vehicle.
Joann Smith, 49, of Florence Township, was charged with three counts of attempted murder and child endangerment per SF Gate. She was being held on $600,000 bail, and it was not clear if she had a lawyer.
Authorities said Smith drove the van onto a boat ramp and into the Delaware River in Florence, about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia, around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday before being rescued.
Darnell Taylor said he and his wife were driving by the river when he noticed a van plummeted into the river. He told WCAU-TV that he proceeded to get out of his car after hearing screaming and dove into the water.
“I couldn’t get the window open because the window in the van was not a pop-out window,” Taylor said Wednesday. “So I kept telling the young lady to kick the window out and she kicked it out.”
Smith’s three children, two boys and girl, are ages 13 to 15. One suffered minor injuries of cuts to their leg, police said.
Taylor recalled that Smith only said “thank you” during the rescue.
This incident comes just after another mother was accused of driving a minivan into the Atlantic Ocean with her three children in Florida on March 4.
Ebony Wilkerson was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, Volusia County Sherriff Ben Johnson said. He said investigators also believed she was trying to kill her children – ages 3, 9, and 10 – when she drove them into the ocean in Daytona Beach.
Bystanders and beach rangers were able to rescued the children from the van, despite Wilkerson’s attempts to stop them.